“All Aboard: Delaware and the Railroad”

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–20th annual Chautauqua tent shows to take place in Lewes, Del. from Sept. 13 to 15, 2018–

(DOVER, Del.—Aug. 15, 2018)—The importance of railroads to America’s economy and way of life, and their impact on Delaware, will be explored during the 20th annual Chautauqua tent show, “All Aboard: Delaware and the Railroad,” that will take place from Sept. 13 to 15, 2018 at two downtown Lewes, Del. locations: the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway, and the Lewes Historical Society’s Lewes History Museum, located at 101 Adams Ave. A complete listing of activities follows or may be accessed by going here. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

"Delaware and the Railroad" banner

A unique mixture of education and entertainment, Lewes’ Chautauqua will be held under a large tent and will feature a model-railroad display, lectures, music, films and an old-time radio show, capped off by re-enactors from the American Historical Theatre who will take on the personas of celebrated historical figures, educating and entertaining audiences as they bring the past to life. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the featured characters who will include a Harvey Girl, one of the thousands of young women who were recruited to work as waitresses in Fred Harvey’s chain of restaurants located along railroad lines in the American West during the late-19th to the mid-20th century; Joshua Lionel Cowen, the founder of the Lionel Corporation which manufactured toy trains; and American author Mark Twain who will share his humorous thoughts on railroads.

Bob Gleason of the American Historical Theatre will portray Mark Twain during the Chautauqua Tent Show.Bob Gleason of the American Historical Theatre will portray Mark Twain during the Chautauqua Tent Show.

Chautauqua takes its name from a series of adult education programs that were first held at a campsite on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in upstate New York during the late 19th century. Chautauquas spread throughout America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries bringing speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day to a wide cross-section of the nation’s rural and small-town population. Circuit Chautauquas (also known as Tent Chautauquas) were an itinerant manifestation of the movement. Programs would be presented in tents pitched in a field near town. After several days, the Chautauqua would fold its tents and move on to the next community. The popularity of Chautauquas peaked in the mid-1920s, after which radio, movies and automobiles brought about the gradual disappearance of the movement by the 1940s.

Tent from a previous Delaware ChautauquaTent from a previous Delaware Chautauqua

Reborn in the 1970s as a vehicle for humanities education, modern Chautauquas are organized around a core program in which re-enactors portray celebrated historical figures, speaking and interacting with audiences. Modern Chautauquas have been presented annually in Delaware since 1999 featuring a wide variety of historical figures including Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln; Amelia Earhart; Dolley Madison; Eleanor Roosevelt; Edgar Allan Poe; the Lone Ranger; John Philip Sousa; and Delaware’s own Pvt. James Elbert, Maj. Allen McLane, F.O.C. Darley and Clifford Brown.

“All Aboard: Delaware and the Railroad” is co-sponsored by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Lewes Historical Society and the Lewes Chamber of Commerce, and is partially funded by a grant from the Delaware Humanities Forum, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Delaware Humanities Forum logo

The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European colony, Swanendael, established by the Dutch along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal) in 1631. Designed by E. William Martin (architect of Legislative Hall and the Hall of Records in Dover), the museum is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and features a stepped facade gable with carved stonework and decorated shutters. The museum’s exhibits and presentations provide a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military and social history.

Zwaanendael MuseumZwaanendael Museum

The Lewes Historical Society is committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation and cultural enrichment of Lewes, Del.—one of America’s most historic towns. As part of its mission, the society operates the Lewes History Museum and maintains several beautifully restored historic properties dating from 1665 to 1898. Open for public visitation, these sites, in conjunction with the society’s educational programs and special events, help to tell Lewes’ story of maritime adventure, architectural elegance and over 375 years of colonial charm.

Lewes Historical Society logo

The Zwaanendael Museum is administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, an agency of the State of Delaware. The division enhances Delaware’s quality of life by preserving the state’s unique historical heritage, fostering community stability and economic vitality and providing educational programs and assistance to the general public on Delaware history and heritage. The division’s diverse array of services includes operation of five museums which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administration of the State Historic Preservation Office, conservation of the state’s archaeological and historic-objects collections, operation of a conference center and management of historic properties across the state. Primary funding for division programs and services is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, a federal agency. However, the contents and opinions expressed in the division’s programs and services do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Department of the Interior.

American Alliance of Museums logo

“All Aboard: Delaware and the Railroad”
20th annual Chautauqua tent show, Lewes, Del., Sept. 13 to 15, 2018

Schedule as of Aug. 15, 2018

Free admission for all events

Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 302-645-1148

1:00 p.m. “Rails in Delaware.” Lecture by historian Mike Dixon traces the social history of trains in the Frist State, from the beginning of the railroad age to the present

2:15 p.m. “Railroad’s Role at Ft. Miles.” Ft. Miles Historical Association President Gary Wray discusses how railroads were not only important externally to Ft. Miles, but internally as well

3:30 p.m. ”Wilmington and Western Railroad.” Lecture by David Ludlow, executive director of the Wilmington and Western Railroad

The Wilmington and Western Railroad in transitThe Wilmington and Western Railroad in transit

6:00 p.m. Old-time radio show. Presented by the Possum Point Players Radio Theater of Georgetown, Del.

7:15 p.m. ”Mark Twain.” Bob Gleason of the American Historical Theatre portrays the 19th century American humorist

Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Lewes History Museum, 101 Adams Ave., Lewes. 302-645-7670

10 a.m.–4 p.m. Model train layout provided by the Delaware SeaSide Model Railroad Club

Friday, Sept. 14, 2018
Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 302-645-1148

1:00 p.m. “Passenger Trains on Delmarva.” Lecture by retired Amtrak conductor Paul Buckley who will share stories about the passengers and trains he experienced throughout his career

2:15 p.m. “Tracking the Pumpsie Doodle.” Lecture by Debbie Keese, former director of the Iron Hill Museum, who will shed light on this little known railroad that traveled between Pomeroy, Pa. and Delaware City, Del.

Friday, Sept. 14, 2018
Lewes History Museum, 101 Adams Ave., Lewes. 302-645-7670

10 a.m.–4 p.m. Model train layout provided by the Delaware SeaSide Model Railroad Club

3:45 p.m. “The Harvey Girls.” Screening of the 1946 film starring Judy Garland in which a mail-order bride traveling west by train meets a group of young women who are about to open a “Harvey House” restaurant at a remote whistle stop

6:00 p.m. Saul Broudy. Folksinger performs the songs of railroad workers and discusses the role this music played in their lives

7:15 p.m. “Harvey Girl.” Kim Hanley of the American Historical Theatre portrays one of the thousands of young women who were recruited to work as waitresses in Fred Harvey’s chain of restaurants located along railroad lines in the American West during the late- 9th to the mid-20th century

Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018
Lewes History Museum, 101 Adams Ave., Lewes. 302-645-7670

10 a.m.–4 p.m. Model train layout provided by the Delaware SeaSide Model Railroad Club

1:00 p.m. “Gandy Dancers.” Screening of the 1994 Folkstreams film about the occupational folk songs of railroad-track laborers non-profit

2:15 p.m. “Model Railroading Today.” Lecture by John Hodges, president of the Delaware SeaSide Model Railroad Club

6 p.m. Problematics. Musical duo of Mike and Lorraine Messitt

7:15 p.m. “Joshua Lionel Cowen.” Neill Hartley of American Historical Theatre portrays the founder of the Lionel Corporation which manufactured toy trains

Neill Hartley as Joshua Lionel CowenNeill Hartley as Joshua Lionel Cowen

-End-

Contact:
Jim Yurasek
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Phone: 302-739-7787
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: http://history.delaware.gov

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